Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lord of the Flies

I read Lord of the Flies in Grade 11 as a required text for English class. I didn't hate it, as many teenaged girls do, but I didn't relate to it on a personal level, nor I think that could be in any way reflective of the real world. Who knew that 20 (okay 25) years later, Lord of the Flies would be so...instructive.


With one week before school is officially on, I feel like my boys have lost all sense of civilized behaviour, much like the boys in the novel. At the beginning of the summer, during our trip west, our living conditions were slightly more primitive than usual, but under the 24 hour a day guidance of Ylal and I, proper decorum was maintained. Our trip west was spent exploring and appreciating nature, we listened to Harry Potter audiobooks in the car, at the campfire and before bed. Calm was maintained.

August has been what I would characterize as a slow descent into chaos. The shackles of civilized society have been worn down as Ylal and I grew weary of settling the same arguments over and over again, and the beast of boredom stalked the house. This past month I have come to appreciate the role that boredom must have played in wars past, as I have observed the destructive nature of the imagination of my three boys. All outdoor play now involves phyisical battles (sometimes with improvised weapons) and all disagreements are negotiated with fists and feet first. My boys are more inclined to destroy than create when left to their own devices.

Am I doing something wrong? Is this the true nature of boys, as William Golding suggests in Lord of the Flies? Will we survive this last week of summer?



If Plal's glasses get broken, I'll let you know...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ammunition

Mlal: Mom, when can I have a b-b gun?

Me: When you get your own house.

Mlal: When can I get an Air Soft gun?

Me: When you get your own house.

Mlal: Can I have a paintball gun?

Me: When you get your own house.

Mlal: What if the only thing on my Christmas list is a gun?

Me: Then you will get a lot of stuff for Christmas that you didn't ask for.

Mlal: Ah-ha! You are Santa.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Eighty-Three

One of the items on my life list is to give at least 500 dollars a year to charity. Earlier this year I made a donation to the Red Cross for Haiti, and this morning I made a donation to UNICEF fund for flood relief in Pakistan. I'm still a ways away from reaching my goal, but the year is far from over.

The flooding in Pakistan is the worst in the country's history. According the the BBC, up to 3.5 million children are at risk of developing deadly water-borne diseases because the flooding has badly contaminated the water. Sadly, donations to the relief efforts have been very low.

Here is a link to read more about the situation in Pakistan.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Life List Update

This summer I have managed to cross a few things off my life list.

I went to the rodeo at the Calgary Stampede and it was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. I have never really been enthralled by the cowboy mystique nor did I go through a horse phase as a young girl, so I wasn't sure about the whole rodeo thing. I turns out I was entertained from start to finish. I was impressed by the physicality of the animals, who it turns out, are bred for rodeos, the bucking horses and bulls as well as the horses ridden by the "cowgirls" in the barrel racing event. The men and women who took part in the events displayed remarkable skills in accomplishing their tasks. I haven't done any reading into the ethics of rodeos, and I'm sure that there are a large number of people who would argue that the rodeo constitutes cruelty to animals (on the day we were there, 2 bucking horses were euthanized, and Alal was quite concerned for the welfare of the animals throughout). In addition, traditional gender roles were clearly promoted throughout. Competitors who chose to wear pink shirts to compete were gently chided by the announcers and there was much emphasis on the cowboys winning enough money to "feed their families", though I don't recall this being mentioned during the women's barrel racing event. All in all though, for the $15 price of the ticket though, it was a great afternoon of entertainment (some of those cowboys were hotttt).

I also managed to get to the hot springs in Banff. It was a gorgeous day and the setting was spectacular. The kids however, were less than thrilled with the experience as they found the water to be too warm, expecting more of a recreational pool. Coming in the middle of 5 days of camping when the temperature during the nights dipped to close to 0, , on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed the hour of warmth and relaxation.

Finally, I visited one new province, Saskatchewan and five new states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana). The states that we drove through on our way to Alberta were all quite lovely, though we only saw a very small portion of them. We were quite impressed by the fact that the two state parks we stayed at (in Minnesota and North Dakota) had free wi-fi. Unfortunately, by the time we reached Saskatchewan we were all exhausted, so I'm afraid that we did not really appreciate the Prairie province as we might have. We did end of having to visit a medical clinic in Saskatchewan, so after 15 years of teaching about the birth of Canadian Medicare in Saskatchewan, I got to experience it first hand.

Monday, August 9, 2010

No clue.

I sat down this afternoon to play my favourite board game with the kids. I have fond memories of afternoons spent in the company of my elementary school friends playing Clue. I was always Mrs. Peacock.

Turns out that Clue is not at all as I remember it. Halfway though the game, Colonel Mustard picked up the lead pipe in the library and attacked Professor Plum. A melee ensued and when it was all over, Miss Scarlett had been stabbed 18 times with the knife by Mrs White.

Boys are different.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

#85- Part II- Favourites

When I was planning our trip, I tried to include as many different things on our itinerary as possible, mostly because it is a long way to Alberta from Northern Ontario, and I'm not sure when we are going to make it back there, especially with so many other places in Canada and the rest of the world to see. I think that looking back, the kids will have great memories of the whole trip, but each of them had a different favourite part.

Alal, my quintessential (and recently, very frustrating) pre-teen son liked the day that we spent at the West Edmonton Mall best. I have a hard time not rolling my eyes when he says this to anyone who asks, because we saw and did so many things that were much more unique. I guess at 11, I would have said the same thing though. At the Mall (the biggest in the world, according to their website) we spent most of the day in the indoor water park and later in the day, the boys went to the arcade while I went shopping. Here is Alal on the scariest water slide which he had no problem with, in spite of the fact that he has always been the kind of kid who likes to play it safe (more changes to look forward to!).

For his part, Mlal really got into the cowboy spirit during the time we spent in Calgary during the Stampede. It seems that everyone in Calgary is a cowboy or cowgirl for these 10 days and my 9 year old was no exception. He loved the rodeo, especially the bulls.

He couldn't wait to get his hands on his very own cowboy hat, which we had a hard time getting him to take off for the rest of the trip. Mlal wanted a great big cowboy belt buckle but it wasn't so important when he learned that he would have to use his own money if he wanted one.


Plal can't seem to choose a favourite. He enjoyed the badlands/dinosaur leg the most of the three boys. When people ask him about our trip he invariably mentions the water park at the mall, the rides and the rodeo at the Stampede and this....


We saw a lot of wildlife, elk, deer, mountain goats, big horned sheep, squirrels of all sorts, and many different varieties of birds, but for Plal, the bison that we encountered driving east from Edmonton were the coolest. All he needs to do now is remember what they are, so he can stop describing them to people as "really hairy bulls".


For Ylal and I, the highlight of the trip was definitely the time we spent in the mountains. I'm not sure if the people who live in Banff and Jasper permanently get used to the spectacular scenery, but I was constantly amazed by the breathtaking beauty and variety of the mountains and glacial lakes. I can foresee us returning to this part of the country.


 

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